After the end of the 2nd WW, the world was divided into two camps, one led by the USSR and the other by the USA. The nuclear capability of the two superpowers deterred the two rivals from clashing with each other, but they got involved in a prolonged Cold War, which raged till 1991.
Western Pledge to Gorbachev
Once the Soviet Empire was built by Lenin-Stalin began to totter after the defeat and ouster of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in Feb 1989, followed by the fall of the Berlin wall, the 14 Soviet Republics and the Soviet satellite states started declaring independence.
A conference was held at Bonn in 1989 attended by the officials of USA, UK, France and Germany to discuss the German unification modalities. The participants gave a categorical assurance which was conveyed to Gorbachev through the US ambassador in Moscow Jack Matlock that NATO would remain confined to united Germany and would not push into the territory east of Germany, i.e. Elbe. It was stated that East European countries wouldn’t be offered NATO’s membership.
This pledge was dishonored after the fragmentation of the USSR in 1991 and getting reduced to the Russian Federation. Russia was not even accepted as part of a unified Europe. George H.W. Bush had declared that the First Gulf War against Iraq would usher in a ‘New World Order led by the USA. In 1992 came the Wolfowitz Doctrine, envisaging the prevention of the re-emergence of a new rival. With the demise of communism, Islamic fundamentalism was declared as the new threat to the US international order and capitalism.
NATO’s Eastward Expansion
The US-NATO launched five waves to expand eastwards. In the first wave, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were taken into the fold of NATO in 1999.
In the second wave in 2003-2004, the three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia were made members of NATO thereby threatening the eastern border of Russia. The pro-Moscow socialist regime in Georgia was replaced with a pro-West regime through color revolution in 2003. Russia reacted in 2008 by making the two provinces of Georgia independent.
The 3rd wave was in 2009. In the 4th wave in early 2014, a regime change was made in Ukraine through another color revolution. In reaction, Russian forces captured Crimea in March that year. The 5th eastward wave was in 2019.
In 2021, Washington and Brussels announced their intentions to make Georgia and Ukraine members of NATO. Membership of NATO jumped from 12 to 16 and then to 30.
The last indirect intrusion was in Kazakhstan in Jan 2022 where widespread anti-government protests had almost toppled the pro-Moscow regime, but was rescued by the Russian troops.
Most of the former Soviet Republics barring few happily helped the US and NATO in encircling Russia. Poland and Romania agreed to deploy the American Ballistic missiles defence system.
President Zelensky allowed the US to establish 25-30 biochemical weapons labs in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa. Reportedly, Israel was also in this business. There are reports of coronavirus research labs as well.
Read more: UK spy chief says Putin losing Ukraine war
Importance of Ukraine
Ukraine is important to both Russia and the EU since it is the largest country in Europe and rich in mineral resources. It is Europe’s breadbasket and a major exporter of grains.
It provides direct access to Russia’s Gazprom gas field and oil pipelines to Europe. 40% of the gas, and one-quarter of crude oil, are supplied by Russia through Ukraine to Europe. Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are the largest importers of Russian gas.
Loss of Ukraine will directly threaten the security of Russia.
Hence Ukraine which provides strategic depth to Russia is the vital ground for Russia’s geo-economic and security interests.
The imposition of sanctions on gas from Russia will oblige the EU to import it mainly from the US at triple the price.
Brzezinski stated ‘Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine, suborned and then subjugated, Russia becomes an empire’.
Moscow’s Reminders to Washington
The US-NATO were repeatedly advised by Moscow to abandon their Cold War approach and to respect the sovereignty of other countries and interests, but drunk with power the haughty US-NATO paid no heed to Russia’s security concerns.
Vladimir Putin instead of taking proactive measures to block NATO’s encroachment adopted a conciliatory policy with the West. He even collaborated with the US in its war on terror, and didn’t object to the growing US influence in Central Asia.
He and Trump were pally with each other, so much so that Trump was accused by the Democrats of seeking help from Russia to win the 2016 elections.
Putin Loses his Cool
Once Putin assessed that the aggressors were not prepared to halt their expansion and remove the strike weapons deployed close to Russia’s borders, and close the bio-weapon labs, and were about to make Ukraine a member of NATO, he lost his cool, and gradually deployed up to 130,000 Russian forces on the borders of Ukraine from Nov 2021 onwards, and then invaded Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022.
If the US could legalize its policy of pre-emption and step into Afghanistan and the Middle East located 7000 miles away to safeguard its homeland, why can’t Russia do it when its immediate backyard is threatened?
Ongoing Operations in Ukraine
A large bridgehead has been made in the Donbas region in the east where Luhansk and Donetsk, who had declared their independence were recognized by Moscow on 22 Feb.
From the direction of Crimea in the Kherson region, Russian troops have made deep penetrations and have closed up to Odessa. The southern port city of Mariupol is about to fall. Northwestern suburb of Bucha is entirely held by Russian forces including parts of Irpin, and Kharkiv in the northeast.
Invaders are gradually encircling the capital city Kiev to choke it and force the defenders to surrender. Chernobyl nuclear plant has been seized, and several US funded and run bio-chemical labs destroyed.
Chechen forces allied with Russian forces are fighting the Ukrainians. 15000 Syrian fighters have volunteered to join Russian forces in Ukraine and Putin has given them a nod.
So far, other than Kherson, no major city has been captured due to stiff resistance by the Ukrainians.
Over 4 million Ukrainians and others have fled and have become refugees in neighboring states with bulk in Poland. The Refugee issue will blow up further and would create social problems for the host countries.
Both sides have suffered casualties. But, these are no match to the killings and destruction caused by western forces during the war on terror.
Russia has put its nuclear assets on high alert. Belarus has shed off its non-nuclear status, enabling Russia to deploy its nuclear weapons there.
Putin views all the former USSR Republics as artificial states propped up by the west, and has sternly warned them to stay out of the conflict.
Russia is determined to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine. He is in no mood to pull out his forces until and unless his security concerns are addressed.
He allowed human corridors for the exit of civilians, but actually he wanted to deprive the Ukraine army of the human shield.
He is drawing strength from the support of China, which is also a victim of the US belligerence.
Battle in Ukraine is the battle for the new world order. Like Lenin and Stalin, Putin is seeking to overthrow the US imposed world order which in his view is selfish and unjust.
Much against the expectations of Putin of a short and swift outcome, the war is dragging on and is likely to get prolonged.
Zelensky’s Please Fallen on Deaf Ears
Zelensky, a Jewish TV comedian, is beseeching the US and NATO to come to his rescue, and establish a no-fly-zone to prevent Russian jets from bombing the cities.
UK, Germany, France and other NATO countries have dispatched heavy consignments of missiles, anti-tank and air defence weapons to Ukraine to bolster its spirits. At Brussels, it was decided to double NATO forces on Russia’s border.
Read more: Ukraine, Russia moving forward to peace
The US has deployed two additional Patriot batteries in Poland, sanctioned $ 15 billion aid, and committed a $ I.5 billion military aid package. Biden is now thinking of sending long range anti-aircraft guns for Ukraine.
Biden declared that the US will defend every inch of NATO territory with full might of a united and galvanized NATO, but will not fight war against Russia since he cannot risk a 3rd WW.
Western media is severely condemning Putin and is painting him a butcher, deranged, an evil monster and a war criminal.
Parleys are taking place between Ukraine and Russia at Istanbul, but so far no breakthrough has been achieved.
It has been revealed that the borders of Ukraine were never demarcated and registered in the UN as a sovereign state. Hence, officially it is part of the former USSR of which Russia is the officially recognized successor state.
Moscow can now claim Ukraine to be its integral part, and whatever is happening there as its internal matter.
Third World Wooed
The USA and Russia are trying to win over as many countries of the third world to their side to swing the diplomatic balance on their side.
China and Russia stand on higher moral ground to win the support of the countries of Asia, Middle East and Africa.
China has been helping debt-ridden countries by providing easy loans for social programs, and developing infrastructure.
Russia helped Iran in its missile/ nuclear programs and in easing sanctions, and had a key role in saving the Assad regime in Syria.
On the other hand, prejudice, malice and discrimination against the non-whites have been the guiding principles of the western world.
Today the West has no justification to dub Russia as a war monger since Russia didn’t for once step into the backyard of USA, nor meddled in the internal affairs of other countries, or indulged in proxy wars, or imposed sanctions on any country.
The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran who took part in the epic battle of Hilli in former East Pakistan in 1971, he is defence, security & political analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan & Director Measac Research Centre, takes part in TV programs, and delivers talks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy.